Focus on Mental Health America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion

The world continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic for second consecutive year. The financial stress and isolation we’ve experienced since the start of the pandemic has affected people’s well-being and mental health. According to Mental Health America, 19% or 47 million Americans, are experiencing a mental illness and 4.55% are experiencing a severe mental illness1. Last December, the US Census Bureau reported than 42% adults had symptoms of anxiety or depression. What is worse, researchers fear that the deterioration in mental health could stay long after the pandemic subsides.

If we, collectively, cannot overcome the effects of the pandemic, we may revert to degrees of isolation which is the root cause on the increase of mental health concerns. Studies show that those most vulnerable to the pandemic’s mental health effects are young people (most vulnerable), older people (because their need for social interactions are stronger), young women (more vulnerable than young men), and people with previously diagnosed psychiatric disorder. When you look at these populations, these are our team members, our partners, and our customers. 

I am proud to work for Sodexo, an organization that specifically prioritizes people with disabilities, as part of our culture of belonging. We have several initiatives and resources to support this commitment. For instance, we have an employee business resource group, SOAR (Sodexo Organization for disAbilities Resources), for which I serve as an executive sponsor. This amazing group is dedicated to raise awareness, provide education and resources, and proactively provide outreach to create a culture that embraces, values, and fully utilizes persons with disabilities in our workplace and the communities we serve. We have also partnered with the Valuable 500 and the International Labor Organization (ILO) to set accountability measures for ourselves to ensure progress. We have deployed a disability self-identification campaign and, most recently, are prioritizing the importance of making all information shared on our internal and external sites accessible for people with a disability. Additionally, our flexibility practices may make previously inaccessible jobs available for people with a disability. 

It is evident that, to date, people with disabilities are confronting new challenges and it is on us to create opportunities to keep integrating and employing them. As we work on our recovery efforts, let’s ensure our retention and hiring strategies are inclusive of people with disabilities including people with short-term disabilities.

  1. https://mhanational.org/issues/2021/mental-health-america-prevalence-data
     

Tom Morse
Sodexo Senior Vice President and General Counsel and Executive Sponsor of SOAR

September 22, 2021